Under the Skin – reviews Scarlett Johansson's sci-fi film

Mar 14, 2014

Johansson a 'brilliant' alien femme fatale in this sci-fi thriller about love, lust and loneliness

What you need to know
Critics have called British-American science-fiction thriller Under the Skin, released in UK cinemas today, "astonishing" and "mesmerising". The film, starring Scarlett Johansson, is directed by Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast) and based on Michael Faber's novel of the same name.

Johansson plays an alien, sent to earth by a powerful intergalactic corporation to pray on lonely, unsuspecting male hitchhikers in a cold, eerie Scottish landscape. But as she carries out her task to harvest human meat, she begins to question her mission. 

What the critics like
Johansson is "quietly brilliant" as the girl who fell to Earth, says Nev Pierce in Empire. She blends innocence and inquisitiveness with an irresistible, monstrous sexuality in this troubling, touching, frustrating and mesmerising film.

Glazer's "astonishing" film will leave you entranced and terrified, says Robbie Collin in the Daily Telegraph. Johansson is nothing short of iconic here as a classic femme fatale in the film noir tradition.

Under the Skin is perhaps best viewed as "an icy parable of love, sex and loneliness", says Xan Brooks in The Guardian. Johansson proves bizarrely engrossing as the unnamed succubus, in this extraordinary piece of outsider art.

What they don't like
The film has style to burn, and "keeps you hooked for about an hour", says Siobhan Synnot in The Scotsman. But while it casts a striking visual spell, it stubbornly prefers to stay on the surface and leave its deeper themes frustratingly unexplained.            

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